Sunday, 29 April 2012

Delicious Oatmeal Cookies


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups rolled oats


  1. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Sieve flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into the creamed mixture and stir. Mix in oats. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line cookie sheets with baking paper. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls, and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie slightly with a large fork. The softer you want the cookie, the less you flatten it.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


Before chilling, divide the mixture into three bowls. To the first add about a cup of chocolate chips, to the second add about a cup of raisins and to the third add about half a cup of dried cranberries and half a cup of chopped walnuts. Delicious!


Saturday, 28 April 2012

My Adventures with Mountain Buggy - Urban Jungle

The very first pram we ever owned was the Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle. It was beautiful, if a pram can be beautiful! A gorgeous vibrant red with clean lines and a wonderfully intuitive design. I fell in love instantly. It took just minutes to assemble and even being a first time pram owner I did not need to refer to the manual to figure it out.

The seat is well designed and seems to be very comfortable. The seat is on a slight recline rather than flat so Felix's bum stayed snug into it. The backrest reclines to almost flat so you can use it from newborn but even at its most upright it is not straight which was unfortunate as Felix loved siting poker straight rather than relaxed back. To recline the backrest and return it to upright is easy peasy, though you do need both hands. It's just like adjusting the shoulder straps on a backpack - so clever!

The 5 point harness with shoulder pads is comfortable and the buckle is well thought out. The only negative would be what a pain in the arse it is to adjust the shoulder height of the straps. Mountain Buggy have addressed this in the newer models so I doubt this is an issue anymore. The "follow the sun" sun hood is huge, I actually never bothered buying the sun cover with this pram. There is a nice viewing window on top of the hood that closes or stays open with velcro. You can also move the sun hood up the pram to make more headroom for an older child.

The handlebar is very clever. With a simple push on the buttons either side you can move it up or down to suit the individuals height. It is great to be able to adjust it if you're pushing up or down a very steep hill. The rubber grip is comfortable to hold and the buttons coped well with my constant adjusting, just because I could.

The suspension and wheels on this pram are fantastic. The picture above was taken about a 15 minute uphill walk from where I live. That's the kind of terrain our pram faces every day (who am I kidding, maybe a few times a week if the dog is lucky!!). But yes, this pram was pushed through foot high tussock, through pine forests, snow, rock beaches, dirt paths and even some farm visits. Not a single problem. This pram laughs in the face of extreme terrain. And Felix remained happy, he was jiggled and bounced about a bit but he was always happy and comfortable and he slept brilliantly in it.

The brakes work perfectly, even on particularly steep inclines with a full load we never had an issue. I like that you can lock and unlock the brakes with either foot though it is a little more difficult in jandals. The gear tray is immense, it's amazing how much you can fit in here. I love that there are little mesh pockets in the gear tray and a zip pocket; great for throwing in the house keys, dog poo bags, phone and other items that you want easily accessable and not at the bottom of a nappy bag. It even comes with an insulated water bottle holder up near the handle which is the best idea ever as I am notoriously bad at remembering to drink enough water.

The Urban Jungle is a breeze to fold and unfold. It's not to heavy either. I could easily get it in and out of the car boot up to when I sold it at 8 months pregnant. The rear wheels come off easily and the handle folds down if you have a particularly small boot but really, if you've got kids, I hope your boot's not that small!

Overall I adored this pram and only sold it because we were having our second baby. We owned ours from January 2011 through to November 2011 when we sold it in order to upgrade to the Mountain Buggy +one. I would love to hear from anyone else who has or has had this pram. Do you also love it?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd is one of our "rotate regularly" books. These are the books that we need to hide for a week, every so often, just so we don't get driven demented reading them over and over and over again. And again. And again. You get the picture. It is a firm favourite of Felix's and he will even request numerous readings in succession which is rare.

It is a simple story of a young bunny's bedtime routine of saying goodnight to the things in the bedroom. It is very effective at creating a bedtime atmosphere; as you read the book you hardly notice that your voice lowers and you read the text slower until you are whispering the last line. There are lots of little details through the book that contribute to that effect; the clock progresses from 7pm to 8:10pm, the moon rises from the lower left corner of the left window and the lighting in the room grows progressively darker.

There are lots of other tiny details you come to notice after multiple readings; the tiny mouse is present on every colour page, moving about the room until on the final page he has eaten the mush, the book on the nightstand is "Goodnight Moon", and the painting on the wall in the painting of the three little bears is of the cow jumping over the moon.

There are so many way to expand this book into something more than just a simple story. Felix and I love to play "find the mouse". We go through each colour page and it's Felix's job to find the mouse. As soon as he points to it I squeek like a mouse. Well, in fact, it's absolutely nothing like a mouse, but I squeek in the most fun way possible to elicit maximum giggles. Possibly not conducive to a relaxing, sleep inducing atmosphere but sometimes fun just has to take precedence!! I like to think of the mouse as a precursour to Goldbug.

I hope you take the time to introduce this book to your child. If you do or if you already have I would love to hear what reception it got.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Animal Flash Cards by Eric Carle

This box of Animal Flash Cards by Eric Carle is absolutely fabulous. I just love everything about it, I'm unsure where to begin. Simply, it's a set of 26 flash cards, presented in a hinged box, with one card for each letter of the alphabet. One side has a beautifully illustrated animal with the name of that animal printed underneath in lowercase letters. The reverse side of the card is completely painted in matching colours and in plain white has the upper and lower case letters presented in a cut out style. The card is nice and thick and would require some amount of purpose to damage. So long as you're not raising the Tasmanian Devil these cards should last well through a family.

One of my favourite things about this set is unusual choice of animals for some letters; we get a narwhal, a quetzal, a xolo and a very familiar caterpillar to name a few. The only very small gripe I have is the use of a giraffe for the letter "g". I would much rather see a gorilla since when learning phonics, children learn the hard g of gorilla first and the soft g of giraffe later as an exception. Similarly, you would teach the hard c of cat before the soft c of centipede. But that's just a small detail and I am notoriously pedantic so you could probably just ignore that!

The important thing is that Felix loves these cards. We look at them in a leisurely fashion, with no agenda. I'm not trying to teach him to read but we talk about the animals, their noises, where they live etc. and when he shows interest, we talk about the letters. We look at the letter, I help him trace the shape of the letter with his fingers while pronouncing it and we talk about other words that begin with that letter. And by we, I obviously mean me. Basically I prattle on and he lets me know I've prattled on for long enough by taking the card, putting it back in the box and choosing another one for me to prattle on about.

Speaking of the box, that is another great part of this set. The gorgeous, sturdy, hinged, cardboard box to store the cards in. I bought this set with the intention of hanging the cards on the wall. It turns out that they are far too valuable to be relegated to a life of dangling off a wall, collecting dust. These cards are one of those child high value items that, conversely to adult high value items, gets loved to within an inch of its life. Cara has been chased with "X for xolo", "H for horse" has been clip clopped on by the Schleich Clydesdale and "J for Jellyfish" has been rescued from the bath just before the taps got turned on.

And that is truly the sign of a successful children's "book". Without even trying, Felix is learning. "D for Duck" gets the excited, ear piercing reception of "dogdogdogdog". Yes, D is for duck, but it is also for dog, and to accidentally learn that at 21 months, just because you're having fun, is fantastic.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Melissa & Doug Latches Board

I don't even know where to begin reviewing the Melissa & Doug Latches Board. This is by far, one of the best toys we have ever bought for Felix. On a whole, Felix isn't hugely into playing with toys. Don't get me wrong, he definitely enjoys them and spends time playing but he spends at least as much time exploring everything from the phone, dishwasher, bathroom sink, lights, switches and windows to even the door stoppers. He has an amazing curiosity; he wants to know how everything works, how it's put together and then he wants to master using it.

This is where the Latches Board comes in. It is a large, solid wooden board with 6 doors. Each door is a different colour, covering the 3 primary and 3 secondary colours, the numbers 1 through 6, 6 different shapes and 6 different animals. In addition, each door has a wonderful, high quality brass latch and is held on with a similarly high quality brass hinge. That is an amazing amount of learning opportunities for one toy and while the price tag is on the high side, as soon as you receive this toy you can see why. This is one that will last and last.

The box recommends this toy for ages 3 years and up however we bought it for Felix at just 20 months as we knew it would perfectly suit his interests. We were right. He took to it immediately and played with it for a solid half hour before taking a break. Right away he mastered doors 3, 4 and 6 as they have the simplest latches. Door 5 with the door chain took another week to master, door 2 another week again and he has yet to master door 1. In fairness the latches on doors 1 & 2 are both fairly stiff and even I find door 1 a bit of a challenge!

Now that the new novelty value has worn off the toy it has cemented itself in with the firm favourites. We will play with it a few times a week. Initially Felix will spend time opening and closing the doors and latches and will soon invite me to play with him; naming and counting the animals behind the doors and naming the colours and shapes.

What toys have you blown your budget on? Was it worth it or did you end up with a serious case of buyers remorse?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Tolo Roller Ball Run

The Tolo Roller Ball Run is another favourite toy around these parts. We bought this for Felix when he was 14 months old. We definitely could have bought it a lot earlier as he got the hang of it right away. I'm very much looking forward to Dexter growing into this toy.

So the basic gist of the toy is that you pop the balls through the holes in the top and they roll down the ramp. Simple? Yes. Addictive? Yes. Mesmerising? Absolutely! The first thing I love about this toy is how well it is made. It is a weighty, solid, quality plastic. I'm usually a bit of a stickler for wooden toys, I dislike plastic crap and I generally detest toys requiring batteries. But this plastic is different. It's not cheap and nasty, it's the type of plastic you can imagine dropping onto a floor and the floor breaking instead of the toy.

On the side of the toy is a twisty switch. If you lock it, you prevent the balls from falling off the first ramp. This means you can lock off the switch, pop all three balls through the holes and the balls are safe inside the toy. Great if you want to transport it or like me, if you rotate your toys regularly and therefore want to store it for a time.

The three balls are a good size and weight. There are green, blue and orange balls, each is half bright colour and half black and white pattern. Two of our balls have what sounds like a smaller ball inside so they make a slight rattle, kind of like those baoding balls that hippies so love. The colour of the holes in the top of the toy correspond with the colours of the three balls. This provides a good opportunity to introduce colour matching. The balls also need to be pushed through the holes with a small bit of force so we build co-ordination and problem solving skills there too.

At 21 months Felix has well mastered all aspects of the toy, including the switch on the side. However, he will still take out this toy a few times a week and play with it for a while. It's also a high value item when friends come round to play. I would estimate the ideal age range for this toy as being from about 9 months through to about 18 months.

Have any of your children played with this toy and enjoyed it? Do you have a similar roller ball toy you would recommend? I'd love to hear what you think.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Pintoy Wooden Walker with 24 Blocks

Felix received this Pintoy Wooden Walker for his first birthday from his favourite Aunty. It was an absolute hit from day one. As Felix didn't start to walk independently until he was 15 months old, he loved having this walker to help him get about. We used to go for short daily walks with it. Granted it took us about 15 minutes to go 20 metres from the house and back again but the smiles and Felix's sense of achievement was totally worth it.

The walker has a bit of weight to it which makes it lovely and steady for young toddlers. Felix was able to use the walker to pull himself up to a stand and then lean on it quite a bit while walking. It is also very strong so if he got tired of walking before we got back to the house, he could sit in the walker while I pushed him. Sometimes I think he just faked tiredness as he so enjoyed this aspect of the toy.

The downside of this sturdiness and weight is that it is a difficult toy to maneuver in tight spaces. Our house is quite small so there was a phase where Felix found it frustrating to try and turn the walker. He needed a fair amount of supervision and help during that time but he soon learned how to 3 point turn and was delighted with himself.

Now that Felix is a little older and he is such an avid reader, he is showing a lot of interest in words and letters. In addition to stacking the blocks, knocking them over, taking them out of the walker and putting them back in, there is the opportunity to learn colours, numbers, and letters. We also spell out familiar words that he can pronounce. So far he can recognise dog, ball, moon and cat.

At 21 months, Felix still plays with this most days of the week. I envision his interest in it lasting a lot longer and I can definitely see Dexter being pushed round the house in it when he is older.

Do your wee ones have this walker? How do they enjoy it? Or do you have a different type of walker you love?

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar should be on every single child's bookshelf. It appeals to both Dexter at 3 months old and Felix at 21 months old. Dexter loves to look at the bright colours and simple bold pictures. Eric Carle's artwork is absolutely beautiful. Felix loves to name everything and to stick his fingers through the small holes in the pages.

The book follows a caterpillar from birth as he eats his was through the pages, from one apple through cheese, a lollipop and even watermelon. There are so many learning opportunities with this book. It provides a child's first science lesson, seeing the metamorphosis from an egg to a caterpillar to a butterfly. We are also introduced to an array of different foods. At the same time we are presented with the days of the week and numbers from 1 to 5. At the end of the book there is the opportunity to talk about the rainbow of colours in the butterfly's wings; red, purple, blue, green, yellow and orange.

I bought this book for Felix when he was approximately 6 months old and we have been reading it almost daily since then. His first birthday party had a Very Hungry Caterpillar theme and neither he not I are sick of the book yet. I can recite the book word for word but I still enjoy curling up and reading it to both boys.

Do any of you already have this book? I'd love to hear what your children think of it, if they love it as much as mine do.

If you live in North America I would recommend buying the book from, however if you live elsewhere in the world The Book Depository is the place to go for all your books. They offer free shipping on all books and at the moment have a 10% off sale.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Hop On Pop by Dr. Seuss

Felix's book of the week is Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss. Hop on Pop is part of the Blue Back Books by Dr. Seuss; a range of books designed for parents to share with their children. Hop on Pop is a fun read and a great introduction to rhyming words, such as Hop and Pop, Cup and Pup, Ball and Wall, See and Bee. In time, Felix will learn that he can simply change the first letter to make a whole new word.

Felix has been going through a phase of not wanting to read long books; we've been looking at a lot of picture books, just naming things and not reading the story. Hop on Pop was our reintroduction to reading. At 64 pages, it is a lengthy book and Felix did not sit through the entire thing straight away. It was on the fourth reading that we finally made it to the end. Since then we can happily read the book five times a day, sometimes more.

At the moment, "No Pat No, Don't sit on that." with the strange yellow creature about to sit on a prickly cactus is Felix's favourite page. It never fails to elicit a giggle from him and sometimes a full belly laugh. The rhythm of Hop on Pop is lovely; it can be read normally, just like any other story or you can really embrace the rhythm and almost sing your way through the book. 

Do you own this book? I would love to hear what your children think of it and what their favourite parts are.

If you live in North America I would recommend buying the book from, however if you live elsewhere in the world The Book Depository is the place to go for all your books. They offer free shipping on all books and at the moment have a 10% off sale.